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A Bonsai Garden
Selby Gardens, Sarasota, Florida

bonsai garden, sho fu, bonsai exhibit

By Guest Author
Sho Fu Member
Kay Karioth

Southwest Florida’s premiere bonsai garden is proudly sponsored by the Sho Fu Bonsai Society of Sarasota.

This is a project that started in 2007 after Sho Fu members,  John and Cindy Petterson returned from a visit to the Morikami Gardens with the thought that Florida’s West Coast would be the perfect location for a bonsai exhibit, and the Marie Selby Botanic Gardens would be the perfect home for that display.

John and Cindy Petterson (shown here,) together with Erik Wigert, and Mike and Lunetta Knowlton, set about to make the dream a reality.

After months of negotiation and planning with Selby - and months of fund raising efforts by Sho Fu - the bonsai garden was unveiled in the spring of 2009 at the annual Asian Festival, which draws thousands of visitors to Selby.

The Society itself was established in December of 1975. In celebration of their 35th anniversary in December, 2011, the beautiful Torii Gate was installed as an entrance to the exhibit with several of the original, founding members in attendance.

volunteer curator Richard Dietrich at Selby Garden Sarasota FL

The Selby Gardens permanent bonsai exhibit is maintained by Sho Fu’s volunteer curator Richard Dietrich (here by the Tori gate.)

Richard works together with a dedicated exhibit maintenance team, made up of Sho Fu members. Selby Gardens provides the perfect venue for the display, as well as support staff to help volunteers care and protect the trees.

By the formal opening in February of 2009, Sho Fu had accumulated an inventory of eleven trees and two forests for the small but impressive display.

These bonsai trees came through a combination of donations from members, as well as from noted bonsai artists such as Erik Wigert, Mary Madison, Hal Mahoney and Cliff Pottberg (all Sho Fu members), as well as Jim Smith, Alan Carver, Joe Day, Ernie Fernandez and Dorothy Schmitz.

Sho Fu is constantly upgrading and adding to the exhibit. This assures returning visitors new and exciting bonsai. Selby Gardens hosts over 130,000 visitors annually. Sho Fu is happy to share our exhibit with these guests. What a wonderful collaborative effort this is!

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